Ninety-six percent of all Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claims in Wales have been paid, with payments now outstanding for around 600 farm businesses.
The Welsh government says claims totaling £220m have been settled and that it aims to have paid “all but the most complex cases” by the end of April; these include farms that have been subject to inspections and cross border checks.
The government credits the Rural Payments Wales online application system and a process of preliminary checks that highlight discrepancies on Single Application Forms for its performance.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) acknowledged that the government had hit a high payment target.
For sheep and beef farmer Dewi Ellis, who was plunged into the red last spring because he didn’t receive his payment until May, the improved performance is welcome.
This year Mr Ellis was paid in full at the beginning of January.
“Last year we struggled with cashflow because our payment was so slow to come through. It forced us into the red but that pressure is off this year,” said Mr Ellis, of Cernioge Bach, near Betws-y-Coed.
“Prompt payment is vitally important for keeping the business on top of things. We have got quite a few lambs left to sell so the BPS is helping to pay for the feed we need to buy.”
4% without BPS money
Although the FUW congratulated RPW on its performance, it pointed out that 4% of farms had yet to be paid.
Its president, Glyn Roberts, called for rapid progress in processing these.
“Most of the money arriving in the farm account through the BPS will be going straight out to secondary and tertiary businesses,” he said.
“Hundreds of businesses are solely reliant on Welsh agriculture and any delay in the payment of the Basic Payment will have a direct impact on these businesses and their employees.”